A spokesperson for Public Health England has confirmed tonight that the South Essex town of Leigh On Sea is currently in LOCKDOWN because of a suspected outbreak of coeliac disease.

At the present time, a hard boundary has been set up to the north, east and west of the town, with all movements of people and vehicles prohibited in either direction.

Jeremy Ki-Nwa of PHE added: ‘Leigh On Sea has been effectively quarantined for a period of at least five days because of an alarmingly high number of new cases of coeliac disease being reported in the town.’

‘This lockdown period will allow specially trained agents to try and get the outbreak under control, and it will also prevent the disease from spreading to neighbouring towns such as Chalkwell, Hadleigh, Eastwood, Benfleet and the wider Southend area.’

‘We are asking all residents within the danger zone to keep a close eye on both themselves and their loved ones for signs of coeliac disease. A full list of symptoms is available on our website, but if you develop a warm glow of smug satisfaction from spending £4.75 on a sachet of Angel Delight please call 111 immediately for urgent medical advice.’

‘Our crews on the ground have already noticed that this is a particularly virulent strain of coeliac disease that can be transmitted from person to person purely through sight. This fashionable mutation has never been observed before.’

We managed to contact Bob’s Café on Leigh Broadway by Skype link earlier this evening, and he told our Chief Reporter that he was one of the first people to raise the alarm.

He said: ‘For the last few days, I have been getting more and more people coming in and asking if this, that and the other are gluten-free. I don’t even know what that fucking means.’

‘I assured each and every one of them that I don’t sneak around my shop and chuck teaspoons of gluten in everything like some sort of crazed lunatic, but all I keep getting are demands to see my nutritional guidelines.’

‘Unfortunately, I don’t have a 500-page dossier about my teabags, so I am at a total loss regarding what they are talking about.’

Jessica De Noosh Montrose-Nash is a mother of three who is currently at the centre of the exclusion zone, and she told our Chief Reporter that she suspects that it is already too late for her.

She added: ‘I already know the warning signs. The last time I had a bag of Monster Munch, I didn’t stop talking about it for a month.’